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Tailors to the stars take on their biggest project yet: Zach Edey ahead of NBA draft

TORONTO — Nota Bene Bespoke have built a reputation as the go-to tailors for young professional athletes over the past five years, but they're taking on their biggest challenge yet this summer: Toronto's Zach Edey.
Tailors Shana Uthaya, left, and Trevis Villafana of Nota Bene Bespoke are photographed on Sunday, June 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

TORONTO — Nota Bene Bespoke have built a reputation as the go-to tailors for young professional athletes over the past five years, but they're taking on their biggest challenge yet this summer: Toronto's Zach Edey.

The seven-foot-four, 300-pound centre from Toronto is one of the top basketball prospects heading into the NBA draft later this month. When Edey is selected, likely in the first round, he'll be wearing a Nota Bene Bespoke suit.

Shana Uthaya and Trevis Villafana, the co-founders of the Toronto-based boutique, said it's the biggest and most challenging suit they've ever styled.

"Canadian guy, local hero, but seven-foot-four, 300 pounds that's a challenge for us, right?" Uthaya said Sunday in a downtown Toronto condo building. "We've done all different types of body types. We've done guys that are 400 pounds-plus, we've done guys that are short, tall everything. But this is the tallest guy

"We've been able to pull it off and I'm very proud about that. And this is our first draft. We haven't done the NBA draft before, so this is big. This is big for us as well."

The NBA draft's first round is June 26 followed by the second round the next day. The Toronto Raptors have the 19th and 31st overall picks.

Nota Bene Bespoke is making suits for three other top prospects ahead of the draft: Kansas Jayhawks shooting guard Johnny Furphy, Duke Blue Devils power forward Kyle Filipowski, and Kentucky Wildcats forward Justin Edwards.

Aside from having to stand on a step ladder to take Edey's measurements, Villafana said the suit itself wasn't that dissimilar from any other project they work on. It was the tight timeline of six weeks to see it to completion coupled with Edey's demanding pre-draft workload that was hard.

"It's more trying to co-ordinate schedules," said Villafana, who travelled to the NBA draft combine May 12 in Chicago to make sure the suit fit Edey correctly. "He's got his own schedule, he's got training, things like that.

"He's not in the same city all the time, so we're going to different destinations and trying to navigate that in real time. That is the challenge but I mean, this is our passion, right? This is what we do."

Edey averaged 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and two assists over 39 games for the Purdue Boilermakers in the 2023-24 season. His NCAA career average was 18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 assists over four season with Purdue, but those numbers are skewed lower as he started only twice in his freshman year and played half as many minutes per game that season.

Edey was recognized for his impressive season April 7 when he won the Naismith Award as U.S. college basketball's player of the year for a second time.

The 22-year-old Edey is only the third male player to win back-to-back Naismiths, joining Hall of Famers Ralph Sampson and Bill Walton.

Although it's no secret that Edey is one of the best collegiate talents to ever come out of Canada, the Nota Bene Bespoke owners are staying quiet about what his draft-day suit will look like.

"I won't give too much details but what I will say is we're going to be representing Canada and we're going to be representing Purdue as well," said Uthaya. "We've customized it in that way to give light on both.

"We're going to do a double-breasted suit, so different from the every day but still very tasteful."

Nota Bene Bespoke first started working with professional athletes in 2019 when Uthaya connected with then-Raptors star Danny Green.

They've also worked with former Raptors player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brazilian soccer player Richarlison and Atiba Hutchinson of the Canadian men's national soccer team.

They're also working with Luke Misa of the Mississauga Steelheads and his younger brother Michael Misa of the Memorial Cup-winning Saginaw Spirit ahead of the next two NHL drafts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press